Surp Krikor Lusavorich Armenian Church in Kayseri

Kayseri Conference by Dink Foundation Cancelled

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(The following open letter was issued by the Hrant Dink Foundation, based in Istanbul, this past week.)

We could not understand the reason why the conference on “Social, Cultural and Economic History of Kayseri and the Region” that we were going to organize on October 18 and 19 at the Hrant Dink Foundation, Havak Hall has been banned.

As is known to all, the conference, which was initially planned to take place in Kayseri was banned due to the interference of the Kayseri Governorship.

Since 2008, the international conference series  of the Foundation have contributed to a detailed understanding of the changing social, economic, politic and cultural structure of various cities of Turkey during the 19th and 20th century, and allowed the recent academic researches to be heard internationally. The series have set a precedent for its scientific approach and quality at international level. In the past years, the conference series were organized on Adana, Diyarbakır, Mardin, Van and Izmir. This year, we have chosen Kayseri province as the theme of the conference.

Our main aim was to highlight the multicultural and rich history of Kayseri with an international and prestigious conference and to share our detailed research and publication on the cultural heritage of Kayseri prepared in 2016 with the support of the European Union and the Ministry of EU Affairs (Turkey).

The international scientific committee of the conference has selected the papers of 27 scientists from various cities of Turkey as well as from the United States, France, Greece and Armenia and invited them to Kayseri to present their research during the conference to be held at a hotel on October 18-19, 2019. Moreover, a cultural heritage tour of Kayseri was planned to take place after the conference for the conference participants to witness the rich history of Kayseri first hand.

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Yet, as the Kayseri Governorship banned the holding of this scientific conference in Kayseri, our Board of Directors decided to move the conference to İstanbul.

At a time when all the preparations have been made, all speakers from Turkey and all around the world have already arrived in Istanbul for the conference to take place today; on October 17th, Thursday at 17:08, just 16 hours before the conference an official notice of ban was given by the Sisli District Governorship to the Foundation based on the Law No:2911, which does not mention any justification for the ban decision.

The Hrant Dink Foundation was established in 2007 after the assassination of Hrant Dink to continue his dreams, legacy, language and heart. Encouraging dialogue, peace and the culture of empathy has been the main principles of the Foundation and during these 12 years the Foundation has held many workshops and international conferences on culture, history, economy, international relations, education and human rights and published reports regarding their outcome both in Turkish and English.

Since its establishment with a court decision, the Hrant Dink Foundation has been organizing similar conferences for many years which are in line with the articles stated in the charter of the foundation.

Foundations and political parties are outside of the scope of the Law No: 2911 on assemblies and demonstrations as stipulated by its article 4. The foundations can carry out any activity, event or meeting which are in line with their charter, subject to the control of the General Directorate of Foundations.

Despite the fact that we have been organizing these conferences on different provinces for many years and that the date of this particular conference has been known since last year, we do believe that banning of the conference through a decision which is against the law, just 16 hours prior to the event, is a significant blow to democracy and science. We have not been able to understand this prohibition which damages the reputation of Kayseri as well as our country outside of Turkey and in scientific circles. We feel very embarrassed on behalf of our country for all of our guests who came from different parts of Turkey and abroad to participate in the conference.

Respectfully yours,

Hrant Dink Foundation

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